" Serial" effects in parallel models of reading

Ya Ning Chang, Steve Furber, Stephen Welbourne

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There is now considerable evidence showing that the time to read a word out loud is influenced by an interaction between orthographic length and lexicality. Given that length effects are interpreted by advocates of dual-route models as evidence of serial processing this would seem to pose a serious challenge to models of single word reading which postulate a common parallel processing mechanism for reading both words and nonwords (Coltheart, Rastle, Perry, Langdon, & Ziegler, 2001; Rastle, Havelka, Wydell, Coltheart, & Besner, 2009). However, an alternative explanation of these data is that visual processes outside the scope of existing parallel models are responsible for generating the word-length related phenomena (Seidenberg & Plaut, 1998). Here we demonstrate that a parallel model of single word reading can account for the differential word-length effects found in the naming latencies of words and nonwords, provided that it includes a mapping from visual to orthographic representations, and that the nature of those orthographic representations are not preconstrained. The model can also simulate other supposedly " serial" effects. The overall findings were consistent with the view that visual processing contributes substantially to the word-length effects in normal reading and provided evidence to support the single-route theory which assumes words and nonwords are processed in parallel by a common mechanism. © 2012 Elsevier Inc..
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-291
Number of pages24
JournalCognitive Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012


  • Computational modelling
  • Length effect
  • PDP
  • Reading
  • Visual word recognition
  • VWFA


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